Material World: You’re only as old as the man you feel (up)

2012-08-11 13:20

Milf. Jump. Cougar.

These days, women are being stamped with more labels than bargain basement sweaters at a post-winter sale.

About 10 years ago, cougar was a dirty whispered word reserved for shrivelled-up old prunes from Europe who cruised East African beaches in search of brown sugar studs to spend their pension money on.

A few of them even took said studs back home to grey England where they learnt the hard way that what happens on a Tanzanian beach should stay there.

But when a 42-year-old Demi Moore married a strapping 26-year-old Ashton Kutcher seven years ago, she brought to the fore a relationship phenomenon that had always been seen as shameful and unnatural – that of an older woman and a younger man.

The proud cougar era was born.

The couple’s split and Moore’s mental breakdown aside, we owe this woman a world of gratitude because she opened a door that at some stage many a woman will be curious to go through.

And in the spirit of Women’s Month, I celebrate the fearless women who have grabbed this label with both hands and own it with all the audaciousness of a jungle cat.

Jennifer Lopez has done her bit for the movement, and right here at home we have the fierce Carol Manana (32), who unveiled her boy toy Sbusiso (24) at last year’s SA Sports Awards in Sun City by draping herself all over him like a luxury silk gown. Can you say grrrrr?

As someone who has twice dated younger men way before it became a Hollywood fad, I was interested in what my girls had to say now that celebrities have made this fashionable.

I mean, not so long ago our cocktail conversations were dominated with fantasies of baiting loaded older men, hooking the Browns engagement ring, and living the dream in a golf estate with the requisite two children and a socialite lifestyle. Having a career was an optional extra.

But my generation of females is spoilt for choice. And as it often happens when you have too many choices, we change our minds as often as we do our hairstyles.

And boy, have ladies made an about turn.

One lady, who got under a 26-year-old to get over a 33-year-old, said no-strings-attached sex was a major driving force in “dating down”.

“There were no future expectations and no relationship pressures. It was just a fun way to pass the time,” she said.

The “let-me-have-fun-while-I-wait-for-something-else” aspect seems to be a common thread. A former colleague says she’s done with angst-ridden relationships – for now.

“I’d love to say I still believe in love and that I’ll get my happily ever after, but the reality is that I’m a 35-year-old single mother and an ambitious career woman, and I don’t have the time and patience required in a relationship. That’s why a younger man is the perfect solution for me.”

Two of my friends flatly refuse to date men their age or older. In fact, they find the thought positively nauseating.

The one I spoke to says she doesn’t consider herself a cougar if the age difference is less than nine years “because you still fall under the same bracket”.

“Contrary to what people believe, there is a lot of mutual respect and understanding in these relationships. As long as a guy is over 23, I didn’t breast-feed him and he’s not immediate family, I’m game. And, anyway, I’d rather cruise kindergarten than an old age home!” my friend says.

Ironically, it’s mostly other women who find these relationships “unnatural” as one put it. But that’s another topic.

Meanwhile, in celebration of these awesome superconfident ladies, I think I’ll go rent How Stella Got Her Groove Back and celebrate Angela Basset’s character, the original ghetto-fabulous jungle cat.

Happy Women’s Month!

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